Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, ME, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. @BruceKGagnon

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Searching for the Humanity in the Other

The term refugee is thrown around frequently these days, as more individuals continue to flee their homes in search of safety, freedom, and a better life.

Unfortunately, when most of us (and the mainstream media) refer to refugees we use dehumanizing language, reducing these people to numbers and statistics. Rather than seeing them for the individuals that they are, we instead refer to them in bulk, describing them in terms of quantity and the amount of resources it will require from us to “accommodate” them.

In hopes of reminding us that these refugees, like us, are real people who have families, friends, dreams, goals, and stories, Amnesty Poland conducted and filmed a social experiment in Berlin.

In the experiment, refugees and Europeans were partnered up and given the simple task of making eye contact for 4 minutes.

RIP Muhammad Ali

 One of the great men of our times.....

Friday, June 03, 2016

Jeju Navy Base Resistance Continues

Jeju Navy base military housing where sacred Gureombi rocky coastline once was.

Daily protest continues at new entrance to Jeju Navy base in Gangjeong village.

Korean Navy warships porting at new base.  It won't be long before U.S. warships begin to arrive at the base.

Protests continue using kayaks to enter the Navy port area.

The Navy and Samsung corporation are outrageously claiming the village must pay several million dollars in damages for construction delays.

Peace activists stand right next to Navy personnel on the base.

A submarine lurks just off the coast of Gangjeong village.  Naval war games are now underway in the area making Jeju Island a prime target during any possible war.

Despite the Navy base on Jeju Island, South Korea now being 'officially' opened, the more than eight years of protests in Gangjeong village still continue.

Village leaders, including Jeju Catholic Bishop Kang, have been repeatedly saying that the protests are needed now more than ever.  We must work hard to make sure the Navy base is never used in a war, they say.

This base was built at the request of the U.S. government.  The U.S. Navy gave the South Korean government the base 'specifications' and had them pay for it.  Under Obama's 'pivot' of 60% of the Pentagon's military forces into the Asia-Pacific more ports-of call, more airfields, and more barracks for U.S. troops are needed.

Thus all across the Pacific - in Australia, Guam, Japan, South Korea, Okinawa, Philippines, Hawaii and more - new base construction and expansion of existing facilities are underway to handle the requirements of the U.S. 'pivot' to encircle China and Russia.

Our peace friends in all these places cry out to the people of the world - stand in solidarity with us in opposing this insane and provocative heating up of war tensions in our region!

Bases of a Collapsing U.S. Empire

David Vine (Assistant Professor of Anthropology at American University in Washington DC) is the author of the landmark book, Base Nation, on US military bases around the world.

This is an eye-opening, factual account based on years of research. David explains how these bases do not serve America's security or best interests, rather they anger and cause many in these occupied countries to rise up and demand that America go home. He also points out how the costs to maintain these bases along with hundreds of thousands of US troops and their families is causing our needs at home to be neglected.

Video by Regis Tremblay.

Bought Journalists

The best-selling book which became hugely popular in Germany and talks of bribery, spies and cover-ups could easily be mistaken for a script from a Bourne movie. According to the book’s author, ex-journalist Udo Ulfkotte, journalists can be bought to put a specific twist on news stories and that he was taught “to lie, to betray and not to tell the truth to the public”.

During his time working as the editor the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of Germany’s largest newspapers, Ulfkotte explains how he was secretly paid by the CIA and the German Secret Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst ) to spin particular news stories in a way that was positive for the United States and bad for its enemies.

For most people this will come as a shock but for German journalists, it’s not at all surprising: “I think that people who know nothing about the work of the media in Germany and in Europe as a whole, will be shocked. For those who still believe that our media is free and independent, reading this book will certainly be a shock, because it denies everything, what they believe” says Zuerst Oksenrayeter, chief editor of ‘Bought Journalists’.

At present, the book is only available in German and can be ordered here. However, Agenda Daily can confirm that the book is in the process of being translated into English, Russian, Turkish and Hungarian. 

Thursday, June 02, 2016

No Regrets?

I was standing in line at our local Credit Union today and noticed a man standing at one of the teller windows.  The backside of his T-shirt had a map of Iraq and above the map read "Proud to have served in Iraq" and the bottom read "No regrets".  My heart sank.

I wondered what was in this man's mind.  Did he not care about the massive evidence that reveals George W. Bush and Tony Blair lied their way into that war?  Did he not care that the Democrats in Congress largely went right along for the ride?  (They knew the military production corporations located in their congressional districts were salivating over the thought of the profits they would make from 'shock and awe'.)  Was the man wearing the shirt not at all touched by the devastation of Iraq, the environment, and the Iraqi people themselves?  Was he not angry seeing his own fellow soldiers killed and seriously wounded - all for a frigging lie? 

Today the conditions in Iraq are worse than ever.  The U.S. did succeed in one sense and that was to create endless war and chaos in the region.  The massive cost to U.S. taxpayers (including the man with the T-shirt) is now well over $4 trillion and counting.  That money is coming out of his pocket and the potholes in our Maine roads, that he likely complains about, are just one small result.  In addition are the local and state tax increases that he probably also complains about since Washington dumped most social and infrastructure programs on the locals to pay for or shut down.  Washington has wars to wage and thus they send 54% of every discretionary federal tax dollar to the Pentagon.

No regrets?  Iraq is a disaster - refugees are pouring out of there - and Afghanistan, Syria, Libya too - but still no regrets?  Our own country is falling apart - and no regrets? 

Eugene Debs (five time candidate for President of the US representing the Socialist Party) said:  "Let the capitalists do their own fighting and furnish their own corpses and there will never be another war on the face of the earth."

My regret is the man in the T-shirt does not seem to know what solidarity means.  He does not understand that a working stiff was sent to kill other working and poor people so they could be robbed of their oil by the big banksters.  My regret is the man in the T-shirt has swallowed the bait about the US being an 'exceptional' nation.  In his desire to find meaning in his own life, this man has ignored the humanity of millions of his own brothers and sisters in Iraq who have suffered needlessly and immorally. 

It was a crime to attack Iraq and is even a greater crime not to know it.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Who Notices It?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Latest Wave of Strikes in France

French trade unions plan to hold more strikes that will now target the transport system, in an effort to force the government to walk away from bitterly disputed reforms through a massive wave of labor unrest.

Save the Date for Ukraine Forum

Will be held in Brunswick, Maine......

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Answer

U.S. Convoy in Czech Republic 'Mooned"

A Czech veteran opposed to the “aggressive missions” of the US in Europe was arrested this weekend for 'mooning' a US military convoy heading to the Russian border to perform war games.
Martin Zapletal, a member of a group of Czech and Slovakian soldiers opposed to NATO, described the US soldiers as “aggressors, killers and occupiers” as Dragoon Ride II paraded through their country heading eastward.
Police arrested Zapletal who is understood to be facing charges of “disorderly conduct,” for which he could be jailed for up to the three years.
More than 1,400 US soldiers and 400 military vehicles are part of the convoy, which is making a 2,200 km “tactical road march” from Germany to Estonia, before the provocative annual drills begin. 

Memorial Day Parade in Maine

There was a forecast for steady rain today at the same time we were set to take part in the Memorial Day parade from Topsham to Brunswick, Maine.  Our local group PeaceWorks and Maine Veterans For Peace lined up as we do each year and thank goodness the rain held off til the end of the parade.

The theme of the parade this year was "Remember Pearl Harbor" - another incendiary memory that the military industrial complex keeps alive in order to sell endless war and weapons.

Our PeaceWorks planning committee agreed that we would riff off the 'Pearl Harbor' theme in order to bring the contemporary Japanese issue of Article 9 to the local public.  There has been a major campaign in Japan during the past couple of years to Save Article 9 of their constitution that calls on Japan to "forever renounce war".  The US is pressuring Tokyo to dump Article 9 in order to allow Japan to join Washington's war follies around the globe.  It seemed like a good act of solidarity for us to carry their message into the parade.

Understanding that most of the public would have no clue what the banner actually means I wrote an Op-Ed for the local paper that was printed last week.  You can see it here

In addition we made 1,000 flyers explaining the Article 9 issue that Morgana Warner Evans and I handed out as our group walked along the parade route.  Fearing that the rain would wash out our leafletting plan I was thrilled to see the downpour hold off during the entire parade.  We handed out all the flyers and could have used a couple hundred more as we ran out right before the end.

You'll notice in the third photo from the top two men walking with sticks in the front of our parade entry.  They are both members of Veterans For Peace (Bob Dale and Victor Skorapa) and are in their 90's.  Bob made it the entire three-mile parade route and Victor (at 93) made just over half the distance.  It was inspiring for us and for those in the crowd to witnessed these two determined peaceful men press on.

Photos by Nancy Randolph

Control the Masses

Excellent documentary on the origins of the corporate oligarchy figuring out how to use mass psychology to control the people.  Long but highly educational video.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The French Revolt

France is really rocking with labor protests and those by youth who see little future for themselves.

The French determination to sustain these protests over time is both inspiring and tactically smart - as they recognize that one off events just won't do the job.   

Sadly we don't get to see many videos that show anything but the violence in the streets - this one above at least gives us some glimpse into the larger issues which the French movements are upset about.

I hope to find more videos about what is happening in France.  I would appreciate anyone that can point me in the right direction.  Thanks.

Peace Walk Planning Meeting - Commitment, Joy & Love

I drove north three hours yesterday to Hancock, Maine, with John Morris, for the upcoming Maine Peace Walk planning meeting.  The October 11-26 walk will begin at the Penobscot Nation and end at the Kittery Naval Submarine yard in southern Maine.  We'll have to do some shuttling during the walk - actual walking distance will be about the same as last year - just over 175 miles.

Our theme this year will be Stop the War$ on Mother Earth.  In our statement about the walk we say:

We come together out of our deep concern about the many different wars being waged on Mother Earth, ranging from over-fishing, deforestation, and human-caused extinctions, to climate disruption and endless war.

Close to home we support the Penobscot Nation’s struggle for Justice for the River, opposition to the East/West Corridor, and conversion of war production to alternative energy at Maine shipyards.  We know from past experience of walking through rural and urban Maine that many people will be reached with our messages. We hope this spiritual act of walking and sharing conversation and food will help people in our state feel less isolated and despairing about the future.

We met yesterday at the home of artist Russell Wray who creates fantastic sculpture.  (He created the dolphin Maka we carried on our walk van last year and the amazing banner that hung on the side of the van.) His gallery inside the house is full of the most incredible work - all centered around nature.  His web site is here

Our planning meeting began with a delicious pot luck lunch and we had a great time going through the whole walk schedule dividing up responsibilities.  A good peace walk needs a strong core of people and I'd say that this 2016 walk will have about the strongest core of folks I've ever had the pleasure to work with.  They are serious, spiritually based, totally committed to preserving Mother Earth, clear about what walks can and can't do, and people who enjoy each others company.  No big egos are involved - only a commitment to get the work done.

We've signed up more than 20 groups around Maine and Massachusetts as walk co-sponsors which is an all-time high for a walk here in our state.  The outreach has already been beyond anything we've ever done before.  And everyone is excited and humbled by the Penobscot Nation offering to host our first night supper and ceremony on Indian Island.  This will ensure that we begin this walk with a clarity about the spirit we carry with each step we take.  Buddhist monks and nuns from the Nipponzan Myohoji order will again lead our walk.

There is alot of tragedy and sadness in our collective work these days.  But the meeting yesterday reminded me of the joy and love that also comes with this work when you surround yourself with people of good heart.

Our next planning meeting will be held on Saturday, August 20 at the Lincolnville Beach park (on US Hwy 1) from noon to 3:00 pm.  All are welcome to join us.  We'll begin with a pot luck lunch.

Sunday Song

구럼비야 사랑해 from cho sung bong on Vimeo.